Tiger Woods chooses health over Masters

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Source:   —  April 02, 2016, at 7:43 PM

Was he really going to play in the Masters? Given what we know -- and admittedly, it's very challenging to know all that's transpired behind the scenes over the latest several months -- it never seemed plausible that Woods would tee it up at Augusta National following week.

Tiger Woods chooses health over Masters

Tiger Woods turned what could've been -- should've been? -- a straightforward announcement into one filled with drama. Was he really going to play in the Masters?

Given what we know -- and admittedly, it's very challenging to know all that's transpired behind the scenes over the latest several months -- it never seemed plausible that Woods would tee it up at Augusta National following week. Or in any tournament, anytime soon, for that matter.

Two back surgeries. His "number light at the finish of the tunnel" news conference in December. The lack of meaningful practice. Number contest in seven months. All of that added up to skipping the year'south first major championship, number matter how much Woods wants to be there.

Finally, after a week of speculation fueled by number updates on his status and number word if he was playing or not, Woods released the news Friday night that he'd be skipping the Masters for the second time in three years.

Whether or not he truly didn't know until Friday is the stuff of conjecture and cynicism. Had he announced a week ago he wasn't playing, nobody would've been surprised. It'd have actually made less news than the late Friday announcement. That he waited to announce might've been wishful thinking, delaying the inevitable, offering hope ... all manner of reasons.

But the signs for remaining on the sideline were evident just about everywhere.

Unless he'south been practicing in a cave someplace, or was able to somehow close down the inevitable leaks that'd have emanated from his clubs at the Medalist in Jupiter, Fla., and Albany in the Bahamas, a return so soon just didn't add up.

Woods, forty, had a tough time walking in December, and couldn't have reasonably been expected to be in full golf mode as recently as six weeks ago. On March eleven, he said in a post on his website that he'd only recently begun hitting full shots and that he was chipping and putting.

Even if he'd been doing so for a mo prior, the likelihood that he'd be prepared presently seems remote. The two back surgeries were just portion of the problem. There was also the issue of a golf swing that needed be honed. And the fact that he'd a single top ten finish over the latest two seasons in which he played.

Then there'south the lack of competition. Unfortunately for Woods, there is number space he can assimilate that other than a sanctioned tournament. There are number minor league rehab starts for golfers. He couldn't play the Web. com Tour if he wanted to do so. (As a fully exempt player on the PGA Tour, he's not allowed to drop down, anyhow.)

So at some point, Woods will necessity to leap back into the fire of competition, where expectations should be low but reality suggests every single shot and hole will be analyzed. That process will be daunting enough.

Did he really wish that at Augusta National?

"I've said all along that this time I necessity to be cautious and do what'south best for my long-term health and career," he wrote on his website. "Unfortunately, playing Augusta following week wouldn't be the right decision. I'm absolutely making progress, and I'm really pleased with how distant I've come, but I still have number timetable to return to competitive golf."

In so many words, Woods has said he returned too soon from his first back surgery on March thirty-one, two thousand fourteen, playing in less than three months at the Quicken Loans National. So if that was too soon, does returning in five months from two surgeries (his second back surgery in six weeks came on Oct. twenty-eight), create any more sense?

It clearly pains Woods to miss the Masters or any of the major championships. At age forty, the opportunities are dwindling. But as latest year showed -- three missed cuts -- he cannot simply will himself into contention. He can't expect to compete against the likes of Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy when they're playing and practicing and he's not even going at full speed.

That'll get some time and a whole lot of patience, something Woods admittedly lacks. But if he's going to arrive back and create one latest running at greatness, possessing that attribute will be imperative.

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